Get More Living Space: A Garage Expansion

Does it seem that as you’ve lived in your home for a while, there doesn’t seem to be as much space as there once was? As time goes by, you start to fill in those empty rooms, and before you know it, there isn’t a single square foot of bare carpet. Now, with your family growing, or your kids simply growing up, you could really benefit from an extra office, gym, or den, but you have no clue where you could possibly make it fit.

Buying a new home isn’t realistic, and you’ve fallen in love with the place you’re at now. Even though you need more space, you can’t bear the thought of going through the hassle of moving just to get a little breathing room. Now what can you do to get the extra room you so desperately need?

A traditional home gets a second floor over its garage. Great results!

Take It to the Sky

As long as you have a garage, whether attached or detached, you have a prime location for adding on to your home.

  • It is much more cost-efficient than trying to purchase a brand-new property. Instead of changing your mortgage entirely, you’re simply increasing what you already have.
  • Adding on is an investment that will increase the value of your home. It is something you will be able to include in the asking price if you ever sell.
  • If you lose your job, or if you’re looking for ways to add some extra spending cash to your budget, the additional space can be rented out as a small studio apartment. You could even use it to make money by turning it into a work-from-home office space.

Are you still wondering if adding a space over your garage is ideal? Take a look at these 6 reasons for building a studio apartment to add to your research.

Have you been swayed into the decision of renovating your property to include a space over your garage? Take the time to look at these 5 tips and tricks to guarantee your project results are flawless.

Check Local Rules and Regs

Before you even think about starting a building project of this type, make sure you get in contact with your local municipalities for codes and regulations.

All regions are different when it comes to building additions to your home and getting the necessary permits. You don’t want to get your hopes up before you know what the rules are. Ask about the cost associated with your building permits as well when inquiring about things like clearance from property lines and the allowed height regulations in the area. If you live in an area with very strict rules, you may be limited in terms of what your property aesthetics are.

Looking to avoid all the time-consuming paperwork and get right to the point? Take a look at this infographic, published in Michael McDermott's article on CRD Design Build:

Infographic - 6 Reasons why you should'nt  do home improvements without permits

Go in with Your Eyes Open

What is your existing mortgage? Can you afford to increase it right now to cover building costs? Is there a decent asking price listed for other homes in your neighborhood that are up for sale? How can you tell if you are making a great investment or wasting your money on something that will never come back to you?

With the amount of time everyone is spending at home these days, more and more property owners are making the necessary adjustments to make their living spaces as comfortable as possible. The problem lies in the financial details. It’s easy to get excited about the thought of the project, but what about the costs associated with making it happen?

Before we get too eager about making home renovations, it’s important to do so with a well-thought-out plan in place. Sit down with someone that can look beyond the visions you have for a gorgeous new living space and keep it real in terms of what you can reasonably pay for.

Questions to ask your financial advisor:

  • How much money will the bank approve for you to make home renovations?
  • What will your monthly mortgage increase be?
  • Are there more years being added to the length of your mortgage?
  • To recoup the investment you’ve made, how long do you have to stay living in the property before you can resell it?

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What will you have to give up to make this a reality? Can you still take part in your favorite activities including going out to eat or traveling? If you have to cut corners, how long will it last?
  • Is your current location considered to be a nice neighborhood with decent resale prices if you want to sell and move later on?
  • Are you in a good place with your family and your relationships? Building, even when it’s exciting, comes with stress from unplanned situations. If everything else in your life is on track, then go ahead. If you’re in a rocky place with your partner, at work, or otherwise, you may want to think about adding a renovation to the list.

Building a second story about the garage can be done at an average cost between $300 and $500 per square foot, according to research published on

Split-level house where the carport is transformed into a closed garage. The sidings are changed too.

Planimage photo – The project: The owners of this property had a vision for their carport that included turning it into a closed garage before building two rooms above. The two additional spaces were transformed into a bedroom and a music room. To finish off the job, they also renovated the exterior of the home.

Start Dreaming and Making Lists

If you’re still with us and excited to keep moving forward, here’s a really exciting step to keep you motivated!

When you have time to relax, grab your favorite beverage, sit back with your partner, and start planning for your upcoming renovation. There are no ideas off-limits at this stage.

Don’t think about the cost or how extravagant the thought is. Make not criticisms or judgments. Just make lists of everything you can imagine about your new living space.

5 things to consider – Keeping it practical.

1. How to access the new space above the garage

Attached garage

Traditional 2-storey grey brick house with master bedroom above the garage

Planimage photo – The Project: This renovation included adding a second floor above the entire structure. The space above the garage became an airy loft and a balcony for outdoor relaxation space was constructed above the porch.

How will you get into the new space? Is it efficient for what the expectation of use is?

Are you planning on turning the new space into your master bedroom? If so, you want to be able to access it from the house. If you’re thinking about renting it out, would there be a reasonable way to access it from the outside?

Stone and wood traditional1-story home with a North Hatley LP, color Sand, and windows

How do you like the appearance of this unique garage door? It's a Desert Sand, 9' x 7' North Hatley LP design, with Richmond Inserts windows.

Are you thinking the area will need to be a private place for a home office, den, or gym and you would prefer to have several access points?

The cheapest way to access the space above the garage is typically from an existing space within the home, like a staircase.

Detached garage

A charming traditional detached garage door with a second floor above the garage, a dormer.

Take this vision into consideration! It’s Plan 69701 from Planimage

How much square footage are you willing to sacrifice to put in a staircase to reach the second story of your detached garage? Would you like to save the space and put it outside, leaving your access point exposed to the weather? Or would you rather put the staircase inside, taking away from the room that you’re currently utilizing for other things?

Whatever style preference you’re drawn to most, whether it’s Contemporary, Modern, or Traditional, you can always get plenty of inspiration on Pinterest. Make sure you spend plenty of time analyzing your plans before making a final decision.

A traditional detached garage in wood and stones  with a second floor, dormers

What do you think about this Contemporary look? It’s Plan No G-28A from Planimage

2. Plumbing and electricity

You’re going to want to meet with a professional to discuss what you have planned in terms of plumbing, electricity, and ventilation. Are you going to require a full bath, half bath, or no bath? How many electrical outlets will be sufficient? How are you planning to heat and cool the room?

Are your kids going to be using the space? Internet access will be a must. Could the room be more practical with a fridge, freezer, or stove? You’ll need the necessary electrical capacities figured in.

Talk with the designer or the architect that’s building the space about what you have in mind so that they can come up with the most efficient and economic plan possible.

You may want to come up with a plan for plumbing and electricity on your own to save some money. Don’t. You’ll be disappointed when things don’t measure up.

3. Multifunctional or evolving space?

Have you determined that you want to make your space into a hang-out spot for your teenagers? A den structure works for now, but what happens to the room when they grow up and leave home?

It may seem like the room is relevant, but years go by faster than we think. Take into account what options you have for transforming it into when what you’re using it for now is no longer relevant.

4. Any thoughts about the exterior look?

Don’t forget about the outside of the structure when budgeting for your extra space.

It’s easy to think you’ll add on to the existing siding or exterior material type, but if you’ve lived in your home for a while, the chances of matching up what’s there to something on the market isn’t very likely.

Even if you can find something that matches, there’s a high chance that what’s already there has faded at least some. People passing by can tell easily that you’ve added on. Anyone interested in buying your house later on will also notice and be more likely to get turned off by the uncoordinated appearance. It’s ideal to get a professional opinion before making any final decisions.

While you’re speaking to the expert about the exterior, ask questions about things like roofing, ceiling heights, and dormers too.

The roof design is a major factor to take into consideration when determining what you want the space to be. Slopes and dormers can have an influence on the living area depending on what shape it is and the height.

High-end 2-storey house in stone

Planimage Photo – The Project: Before adding a large suite with a full bathroom including a bath and shower, this garage was expanded forward to fit four cars.

Rooflines, dormers, and sloped ceilings are often thought of as a waste of space. However, if you have to go this route, start thinking more in terms of things like built-in bookcases, drawers, and other storage options.

What are you aiming towards? That ugly boxy look that happens when adding on to homes while trying to maintain the extra space. A charming interior is possible with the right planning including maximizing those otherwise wasted areas.

Use Mood Board to Bring It Together

After you’ve determined what the room is going to be utilized for, and how you plan to have it built, now is the time to start thinking about decoration and design. When you create a mood board, you have something physical to show the builder or architect. It helps them better understand your vision and customize the design even more with their professional input.

When one person describes a style as "Scandinavian" or "cottage style decors" or "rustic but modern" or simply "blue", it may be completely off base from what you have in mind for those same terms.

There are a plethora of places to look at online to find ideas including Pinterest and various decoration websites. You can also check out hotel websites or restaurants you like to get some ideas that are trendy.

Explore 25 solutions for unusual spaces published by Better Homes & Gardens. Keep your research options open.

You have to be able to take what you see and apply it to other design styles. Did you fall in love with the way a kitchen looked, but you’re planning to turn the space into an office? Think about how you could incorporate different features like cabinets and drawers into desk space that would give you the same appearance.

When you’re designing a room, think about what you already have that you genuinely enjoy in other areas of your home. There’s inspiration everywhere you look.

Country style house with 2 single garage doors in Classic CC design, Ice White color, and 4 lite Orion windows

What do you think of these doors? They’re Ice White, 9' x 7’, Standard+ Classic CC, with 4 lite Orion windows.

Scrutinize Your Garage Door

Don’t forget about the very essential 4th wall feature of your new space… the garage door!

Prestigious house with a double garage door in Eastman E-11 design, Black door and overlays, and panoramic windows

Does this match your design? It’s an Eastman E-11, 16’x8’garage door. Overlays and door in Black with 4 lite Panoramic windows.

The door below the space you’re planning to occupy is the 4th wall. Don't focus on just the R-value when you’re out shopping. Make sure to determine if the garage door is really energy efficient. It’s how to keep the space comfortable temperature-wise, and it can save you a bundle of money if you pick the right one.

Add windows to your Garaga garage door if it doesn't have any. It’s a cost-efficient option if you’re existing door is reasonably new and you like the look of it. Windows bring in natural light and help boost your mood!

When you’re investing in a 2nd floor above your garage, the most essential thing to consider during planning and design is that it has to be comfortable with the most delightful feel!

Modern house with a two car garage door in the Shaker-Modern XL design and Iron Ore Walnut color

Do you love new products and colors that are “in”? Check out these 2! The Iron Ore Walnut color and Shaker-Modern XL design.

Your Garage Door: Is It Time for a Change?

Call a garage door specialist near you if replacing your garage door is necessary. Make your garage door reflect your style and meet the insulation requirements by discussing your ideas with our experts.

Do you already know what door you want?

Get an email sent directly to you with a quote if you’d like one from Bouma Bros. Sales and Service.

Get real advice from a qualified representative! Call 616-452-4704.

We’re here to answer all of your questions.

Want to try out something fun?

Check out the Design Centre app and create your garage door in just a few clicks! Get inspired first by browsing our gallery.

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